forgiveness helps the

forgiver

 

The way we feel about, or interpret, the world ends up being the way we experience it.  We help ourselves immensely if we “repent” our anger because harboring bad feelings just narrows our possibilities for joy.  If we aren’t at a stage in our serenity to not notice the “wrongs” that have been tossed our way, we would serve ourselves well to at least learn how to set them down safely. By learning to deal with anger and unbuckling it from our way of being—not forcibly prying or overtly ignoring it—we have a much easier time getting to the real purpose of this chapter (and a main goal for our life, as far as I can tell): forgiveness.

Before we go on, let me make plain that I’m not talking about “forgiveness” in the usual sense. Standard modern forgiveness sounds a lot like this: “Someone else did something wrong, so fabulous, magnanimous moi, in all my wisdom and benevolence, will deign to acquit him of his misdeed. (And aren’t I awesome for doing that?)” Or something along those lines. In any case, true forgiveness is actually nothing like that. Forgiveness is more about recognizing that whatever doesn’t look like Love is just fiction anyway, so why foam at the mouth over it, deepening our own pain? (You may not agree that anything other than Love is fiction, but even if you don’t, it is still the case that real forgiveness remains an effective way to limit our own agony.)

About now in this kind of discussion, people tend to bring up Hitler, the poster boy for incalculable hideousness. “But it’s not fiction, Kelly! Hitler was the devil! I can’t forgive that!” Of course, what Hitler did was atrocious!* That is not my point. My point is that by  stoking the hate that he (or anyone like him) engendered, we only continue to block Love from our lives. Haven’t Hitler’s wrongdoings wrested enough peace from our entangledness? I fail to see how promoting more hatred and fear helps remediate what he plopped on the planet in the first place. If we keep spreading hate and fear, his heinous legacy only continues. How on earth is that helpful? Mahatma Gandhi reminded us that “anger and intolerance are enemies of correct understanding.” Forgiveness is correct understanding, and it illustrates that we are better at Love than blame, and what a fabulous, incredibly valuable skill set that is! The truly stunning Eva Mozes Kor, a survivor of Auschwitz and of the infamous Dr. Mengele, very factually informs us that “Forgiveness is nothing more and nothing less than an act of self-healing.” Thank you, Eva!


* And let me just confirm, his actions were dark beyond description. It is not my intent to rile us up about Hitler here. I only bring him up because he seems to represent evil incarnate. What I’ll discuss in other books is that anything that doesn’t look like Love isn’t real, and there’s a huge difference between the action and the person.